Good (free) resources for overcoming sexual/emotional abuse?
December 7, 2013 8:09 PM   Subscribe

How to heal after living with a sex addict? I am looking for good sources of personal empowerment concerning sexuality (female) and possibly examples of men who actually love deeply and see sex as an expression of love as well as passion...any leads?

For the first half of my life, sex was surrounded by religious shame. Later on, like many young and insecure girls, I used sex as a way of feeling appreciated and special - though it was mostly unfulfilling for me physically and emotionally. Long story short, I married a sex addict, and my sexual confidence went from bad to worse. In order to avoid facing his sexual dysfunction, he blamed me for being too fat compared to the girls in his porn videos (I was a size 8), and consistently chose porn and sex parties over making love to me, no matter how hard I tried to please him...Thankfully, that relationship is over, but now I'm left with a cocktail of shame and insecurity surrounding my sexuality.

I feel ugly, used up, and -of course- angry at his attitude, but just knowing that he has issues and I SHOULDN'T take them personally doesn't silence the internal beliefs I've formed about myself and my body. Generally, I feel like an object now whenever a man directs sexual attention toward me - even if we're dating! In the bedroom, I feel anxiety about pleasing my partner, and I want to feel confident. I also feel like the only way I know how to be in bed it to just turn up the slut dial, but I long for actual connection...

Yes, I have a therapist. She doesn't seem to have any great insight for me. Just the normal, 'give yourself time to heal, and try to believe you're beautiful' kind of stuff...

Who has better advice? Or, is there a book or a website, a class or anything that could help me to get free from BOTH the objectification and insecurities I've internalized AND the lingering deep shame around being sexual in the first place?
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

If you're unhappy with your therapist's approach, it's okay to seek out someone new. The answers she gave you seem pretty standard, though. It takes time before your brain starts to make that shift.

Good luck!
posted by fireandthud at 8:55 PM on December 7, 2013

Yes, I have a therapist. She doesn't seem to have any great insight for me. Just the normal, 'give yourself time to heal, and try to believe you're beautiful' kind of stuff...
Absolutely find a new therapist.
posted by elf27 at 12:32 AM on December 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

This might sound flippant, but maybe you just need to chill out for a while, forget about sex for a bit and try to focus on you generally feeling better about yourself.
posted by Diag at 3:10 AM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lots of good stuff you can read.

First, start with yourself and your body. Have you ever read Our Bodies, Ourselves? It's a classic and will get you grounded in your physiology.

The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex is kind of a good all-purpose book about what people really do and really like in bed--across the spectrum of sexes, genders, sexualities. It might be a good resource to normalize your experience, to get a sense that "yeah, I really enjoyed that" and "actually, I hated that".

As far as internal process, personal development and healing, you might want to start by checking out the writings of David Schnarch (Intimacy and Desire) and Marty Klein (Sexual Intelligence). AASECT is the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. They have search function so members of the public can find therapists to work with if you want to find a new counselor. There is also a page of books by member and I'll bet you can find some really useful resources there.
posted by Sublimity at 3:59 AM on December 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ah, and lest I forget, this book by Sheri Winston is great, in depth specifically about female sexuality. Highly recommend.
posted by Sublimity at 4:06 AM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Head to the posarc site - a coach and ex partner of a sex addict - may be more suitable than your current? There's not much understanding out there.

Check out inner child work (there will be exercises online)
and Betty Dodson's dodsonandross site though this is a bit 'sexy' so maybe not your first call. It's worth reading up on narcissists and similar (borderlines, histrioniics and psychopaths).. the Cluster B disorders.

Think about staying away from that side of life for a while... when we're wounded we can unconsciously keep attracting the same kinds of crap. You need something far gentler now by the sounds of it.
posted by tanktop at 4:45 AM on December 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would discuss your problems with the therapist's methods directly. Some are waiting for you to open a door. Others don't know the answer to the question of "how" you are to make the changes to make. A direct conversation is needed.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:13 AM on December 8, 2013

I used Pandora's aquarium as a support group. It specifically for people who have suffered sexual abuse of ANY kind. They have great resources. You may be able to find something that you can relate to there.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:04 AM on December 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

The book Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape has essays on a variety of topics, but the general theme is cultivation/reclamation of healthy sexual identity.
posted by lilnublet at 8:15 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

This book might be helpful.
posted by mareli at 12:15 PM on December 9, 2013

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